If only more “talent” would stop taking pictures of themselves and started showing what they could do in the graphic novel format. Like Jim Broadbent and his dark imagination…

One of the many kinks of celebrity vanity is that most are convinced they could easily dominate the publishing industry.

Dull Margaret, by Jim Broadbent and DIX. Fantagraphics, £25.99

Latest to share some printed output is actor Jim Broadbent (slightly moon-faced, always seems to speaking kindly yet slowly to someone, has been in almost as many films as Michael Gambon, who’s been in all of them.)

If you’ve been assuming he’s the sort of player whose main area of concern off-stage is the health of his lawn, well, cycling helmets on, because your mind is about to be blown.

Dull Margaret is a folk tale about a foul tempered drudge who lives in an estuarine world of mud, tides and eels.

Her rare interface with other squalid peasants is on the distinctly unfriendly side.

One day while naked in her vile hut she brews up some “ingredients” in her cauldron (old rat, drowned corpse’s hand, dead dog etc.) and makes a wish.

In spite of getting her hands on some coins and an old man who she keeps as a slave, things don’t measurably improve.

Superbly illustrated by DIX, who rarely strays from a prison-food palette of grey and brown, this “dark tale of loneliness, greed and selfishness,” makes dystopian visions like The Road look like the Rich Kids of Instagram.

And heaven knows what state Broadbent’s lawn is in. Bleakly recommended.


This review first appeared in Strong Words issue 2. To buy back issues, go here